1495. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 16 August 1808

1495. Robert Southey to Henry Herbert Southey, 16 August 1808 ⁠* 

Dear Domine Doctor

Great news. King Arthur is deposed, & Thomas Rees (brother to Rees of the firm) reigneth in his stead. [1]  An excellent Revolution, huzza! – I have written to the new King about your money, & before he received my note, there came one from him saying that he had set apart some books for you. The Aikins are offended, & like the last ministry all resign in disgust, – I am sorry that Wm Taylor hangs with them, – he is a staunch advocate for party fidelity, – but King Arthur deserved his deposition, – & did not deserve any sacrifice on the part of Wm. T. whose articles he used to caponize so cruelly.

I have written to my Uncle recommending that you translate & publish a volume of travels in the interior of S America, from his MSS. now in my hands, consisting of 1. a voyage up the Rio Negro & part of the Amazons, 2. a voyage up the Madeira (this is Englished by my Uncle already, & th needs only transcription with its verbal omissions filled up) & 3. a voyage to the Lake of the Xarayes, [2]  – for which it is my opinion that 150 £ may be got, at least, – which you will find very acceptable, – & very easily earnd.

A homo of Gateshead by name John Adamson hath written me civil letters with a bad translation which he hath published of a worthless play from the Portugueze. [3]  I have written him civil answers (Domine, thou knowest that it is my nature to be civil) – I am about to lend him three little volumes, & he promises when he has done with them, to deliver them into your hands. [4]  It must be confessed that in desiring him to return them thro this channel I had an eye to thy fingers & his pulse.

We really expected to see you from your former letter. Whenever you do come, if you have no better nong place to x nong-long-paw at, you may prudently remember that you saw Jacksons brother once, – & that he lives at Aldstone. [5]  They have desired me to make it my halting place whenever I go to you, – & Domine I shall one of these days, when you have a bed to put me in, buckle on my knapsack, & set off on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Cuthbert. [6] 

The title page of the Cid [7]  is on my desk. O Domin, the most venerable of all my title pages, – a title page after my own heart, & worthy of the days of Wynkin de Worde & Caxton. [8]  Nothing remains but to finish Freres incomparable translations which form the appendix, [9]  & in a fortnight the book will be published; – soon enough perhaps to be inclosed in your first parcel from Thomas Rees.

John May has heard that Sealy [10]  consents to your marriage whenever you make 300 £ a year by your profession, – an income which Johnny shrewdly remarks implies considerable slaughter. – I shall be glad to send Mary a set of all my operas, equipped in Lady’s livery, whenever things are upon such a footing with her father, that it can be done with propriety. He I am told is going to Falmouth, to seize the first opportunity of getting to Lisbon. Well done the Spaniards & Portugueze! I never doubted their deliverance when they began to stir, – I never doubted the resurrection of those nations since I knew them.

Here are at this time two floating islands above water at the head of the Lake, – one has been there this month, the other came up on Saturday. It is a great pity that you are not here to bottle gas, make experiments, & draw up a scientific account. A stream of water from the side of Barrow [11]  sinks into the ground & is lost before it reaches the Lake, – if this stream finds its way to a stratum of pyrites, the phenomenon is accounted for: but it is not so easy to guess by what power they are kept buoyant.

I wish Domine it was possible for me to send you money. The will for the deed is but a bad substitute in all cases, & in none so bad as in this. It would be well if you & I could part with a little spare wit, enough to set up a gentleman-punster & a gentleman-poet; – & also if we could find any purchaser who would buy a good for nothing rich Uncle of us, at half price.

I have within the last three months written above 1000 lines of Kehama, every line before breakfast. What says my Lord Lazy to that? & thus I mean & expect to finish the poem.

God bless you


Aug. 16. 1808.

Tom complains that you do not write.


* Address: To/ Dr Southey/ Durham.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. ALS; 4p.
Unpublished. BACK

[1] Thomas Rees (1777–1864; DNB), Unitarian minister and writer on theological history, brother of Owen Rees, partner with Longman, publisher of the Annual Review. BACK

[2] Southey came to own these manuscripts himself: the sale catalogue of his library lists as no. 3849 ‘Miscellaneous: – Voyage up the Madeira in 1749, with a MS. map – Relaciaon da Guerre e Successos de Mato Grosso desde 1759 ate 1764 – Noticias do Lago Xarayes – Memoria de Observaçoens Physico Economicas acerca da Extraccaon do Oiro das Minas do Brazil, por Man. Ferreira da Camara; in 1 vol. half bound calf , 4to’. No. 3859 was a copy of Francisco Xavier Ribeiro Sampaio’s Diário da Viagem que em Visita e Correição das Povoações da Capitania de S. José do Rio Negro Fez o Ouvidor e Intendente Geral da Mesma, no Ano de 1774 e 1775 (1775). BACK

[3] Adamson was the translator of Donna Ignez de Castro, a Tragedy, from the Portuguese of Nicola Luiz, with Remarks on the History of that Unfortunate Lady (1808). BACK

[4] For Southey’s letters to Adamson, see Southey to John Adamson, 6 August 1808, (Letter 1487) and 12 August 1808 (Letter 1489). The three volumes Southey was lending him were: Antonio Ferreira (1528–1569), Inês de Castro (c. 1557); Domingos dos Reis Quita (1728–1770), Inês de Castro; and Manoel de Azevedo Morato (dates unknown), Saudades de D. Ignez de Castro. Das ne convertida em, Loureiro. Glojsa a hum Soneto de Camoes (1716). BACK

[5] Alston: a village in the Pennines half way between Durham and the Lake District. BACK

[6] This shrine is in Durham Cathedral. BACK

[7] Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid (1808). BACK

[8] Wynkyn de Worde (originally Jan van Wynkyn) (d. 1534) was a printer and publisher in London with William Caxton (c. 1415/1422–c. 1492; DNB). BACK

[9] Three of Frere’s translations from the Poema del Cid were appended to Southey’s edition of the Chronicle of the Cid. BACK

[10] Henry married Mary-Harriet Sealy, the daughter of a Lisbon merchant, Richard Sealy (c. 1752–1821), in 1809. Sealy had lost his business in Portugal upon the French invasion and was now setting up in Brazil, whence the Portuguese court had fled. BACK

[11] The southeast side of Derwentwater. BACK

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